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Komintern - Le Bal Du Rat Mort CD (album) cover





4.15 | 34 ratings

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5 stars The proof that RIO didn't spring out the forehead of Chris Cutler one particularly inspired Saturday morning in 1977

After leaving the theatrical satire groove of Red Noise both Francis Lemonnier(sax, vocals) and Serge Catalano(drums, percussion) went onto new pastures after a major fall out with the rest of the band supposedly to do with polics. Joining forces with them were Michel Musac(guitar), Olivier Zdrzalik(bass, vocals, organ and piano) and Pascal Chassin(guitar) who all seemed to sport identical extreme leftist views.

In Komintern politics, theatre, French culture and absurdity are all scrambled up in this furious roller-coaster ride. You carefully plug into your seat, and BOOOM the ride is off to a wondrous circus land of strange sailor motifs and dancing Mandrill monkeys on balconies. Additionally you find a complexity regarding musical turnovers that'll make Gentle Giant look like Meat Loaf. Pacing wildly through avantguarde cabaret rock, fusion, angular folky chanson and zany off hinged vocal dominated sections, Le Bal de Rat Mort offers up the possibility of what Samla Mammas Manna would've sounded like, if they were French. Funny thing is that both of these bands actually were playing parallel to each other during the start of the 70s - developing a similar feel and sound at much the same time, only with two completely different cultures running the engine room. My guess is that they probably didn't even know about the other band's existence, let alone what their music sounded like.

All of this obviously started with Frank Zappa, and I think both Samla Mammas Manna and Komintern were highly influenced by Zappa's humoristic irreverence - not only in the lyrical sense but moreover in the manner in which he sliced through contemporary music with huge scissors and chainsaw elbows. Franky boy practically infused Dadaism into the rock world as something tangible and funny. Something you could actually make use off. Komintern took the baton up, just as Red Noise had did, and ran this filter through the heartland of France - it's age old accordion music, the new jazz rock, chanson traditions, beat music flirtations, and then managed to create an entirely unique sound for themselves. A sound that shakes you from your tree - rustles up the ground, and has you bouncing up and down with twitchy, unwieldy and nonsensical joy.

Apart from the core of the band, there are guesting musicians joining in on trumpet, trombone, accordion as well as the wonderful expressive vocals of Jeanne de Valène that show themselves in the most brilliant moments. The infusion of what now is a small Big Band(hoho), litters this entire album in scattered reed chit chatter - making you feel as if you're sitting in a room with some 50 different bird species all competing for your seed.

This is what makes circus elephants horny at 4 in the morning. It's what drunk clowns listen to when they're base jumping off the Eiffel Tower. It's the sort of music that leaps into your head like a long stretched limousine with silver doors and bells on it. It makes you jump for joy - dance into trances maniacally dripping with energy and sweat - open windows in places there are no windows, and shout LARS! at people in the street you've never met in your life.

I have read other music writers before me stating, that The Dead Rat's Ball (What a sensational title eh?) wasn't as experimental and ground-breaking as it's peers when it hit the street in 1971. As opposed to who I might enquire? How wrong they are. I truly object to such an obvious ludicrous statement. This is one of the most experimental and out there albums of it's time, and perhaps together with Måltid from SMM, Le Bal du Rat Mort lays down the blueprint of what later became the principles behind the RIO movement. This is genesis right here, don't you forget it people!

Guldbamsen | 5/5 |


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